The way change occurs to begin with, if you come up with a good idea, like heathcare, you’re ignored. If you go on you must be mad, absolutely stark-staring bonkers. If you go on after that you’re dangerous. Then, if the pressure keeps up there’s a pause. And then you can’t find anyone at the top who doesn’t claim to have thought of it in the first place. That’s how progress is made.
Tony Benn. Interview with Michael Moore in the Movie Sicko (2007)
[T]he nature of the new world system was not so different from the old. It was for the moment more stable, but a reasonable forecast would be that Africa in particular had a century of border wars ahead of it. On the other hand, such was the power of the anticolonial idea that great powers from outside a region had relatively little influence unless they were prepared to use force. China altogether backed Fretilin in Timor, and lost. In Spanish Sahara, Russia just as completely backed Algeria, and its front, known as Polisario, and lost. In both instances the United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with not inconsiderable success.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan. A Dangerous Place, Little Brown, p. 247 (1980)
I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.
Russia is emerging from the nightmare of Communism astonishingly intact. It’s a miracle the country survived the Yeltsin years, when the nation was looted by “former” communist apparatchiks who seized control of the nation’s resources in a series of rigged “privatizations.” There is hardly any democratic tradition in Russia, and liberalism is a minority viewpoint rather than the majority mindset: long-standing habits die hard, particularly in a nation as mired in history and tragedy as Russia. Given all this, it’s amazing they have elections – relatively free and open ones – in Russia at all. It wasn’t so long ago that Stalin’s gulags held millions. Now Illarionov wants us to go to war with the Kremlin over a grand total of 80 “political prisoners” of dubious provenance. What a joke – except nobody’s laughing.
Hidden from most media reporting were points made by former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock, who suggests that Georgia “poked Russia in the eye” and argues that Georgia has long been tempted to subdue the Ossetians and Abkhazians by force. In his opinion, Russia saw its intervention as similar to NATO’s involvement in Kosovo. In contrast, the mainstream western reaction was quick to accuse Russia of an unjust war against a sovereign state.Little was mentioned of legitimate Russian interests, such as its long-standing peacekeeping mission and its desire to prevent civil war or a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Georgia. Opportunistic Georgian leadership, which may have seen its sizable contribution to the US mission in Iraq as a guarantor of American support, might even be to blame for having started the war. From the standpoint of US policy, perhaps the problem was not as much Russian audacity as it was American policymakers’ inability to recognize Russian interests and anticipate its actions. If a habitual inability to understand Russia persists, America and its western allies are at risk of suffering from strategic miscalculation and, in the case of North Korea, potentially a missed opportunity. http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/Articles/09summer/bauer.pdf
“The human soul degrades itself above all, when it does its best to become an abscess, a kind of detached growth on the world. To be disgruntled at anything that happens is a kind of secession from Nature”. Marcus Aurelius
“Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.” Carl Sagan